The spray park is closed. (© Turtle O’Toole

Last weekend we had a birthday party for our 6-year-old daughter, several weeks after her actual birthday because she wanted to have it at a new spray park that just opened in our neighborhood a few days before the planned party. We schlepped everything over there an hour before the party was to start, got all set up at the picnic area next to the spray park, and eagerly awaited the park’s opening at 10am and the arrival of our guests at 10:30. Both kids, in their swimsuits, could barely be contained.

The clock ticked towards 10am…then a few minutes past…then by 10:15 I had a sinking feeling. As we peered into the windows of the offices next to the spray park there were no signs of life. Finally a couple homeless guys came over to me and my daughter and told us, “Oh this place is closed on the weekend.”

I couldn’t believe it except it was obviously true. Our guests were set to arrive in just a few minutes and I felt like a real idiot. Deep breath. Big sigh.

First I looked at my daughter. She visibly drooped at the news. I braced myself for her to fall apart and my mind raced as to how I’d handle it. But she didn’t fall apart. To my immense relief she shrugged it off and started walking back to the picnic/party area, saying in a remarkably relaxed tone of voice, “Well, we’d better go tell daddy!”

Oh, how relieved I was. I shouldn’t have been surprised as she’s a really adaptable kid. But still, she had so been looking forward to the spray park party and I know it must have been a big disappointment for her. So besides my relief, I felt really proud of her at that moment.

So victory #1 of the day was averting a birthday-girl-meltdown.

Next up: Telling the guests. One by one, families arrived with excited kids in swimsuits, and to each of them over and over I had to explain that, sorry, so sorry, the spray park is closed. Man did I feel lame. Of course everyone took it in stride, and thankfully it was just a small gathering of fairly close friends. But still, aaaargh! I was incredibly frustrated and more than a little embarrassed.

As I explained to everyone, not only had I checked the website for the hours of the park, but I had come in person just three days prior, and talked with the staff there about having a party on this particular day, to make sure it all would be kosher. And they assured me my party was fine; no permits necessary, etc. I still don’t know what happened, other than that the best laid plans of mice and men — and moms — often go awry.

Here’s what I learned that day:

If your kids are happy, then everything is OK. They all had a great time and didn’t seem to care a bit about the spray park. This awesome pack of kids was a joy to watch.

Do not trust information obtained from city websites or employees. OK, I’m joking here — but only a little.

Homemade lemon cake (with lots of frosting) and water balloons fix even the worst SNAFUs. ‘Nuff said.

© Turtle O’Toole

One Comment

  • The “If they’re happy, then everything is okay” dictum is so, so important to remember. It applies in many areas of life, especially if, like me, you’re a perfectionist and crave for things to go according to plan. I think I’ve saved myself many ulcers by letting go of my need to optimize.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.